STOCKHOLM, January 27, 2004 ( – Statistics from Norway and Sweden reveal that the majority of children – 60 percent – are born from parents who are not married. Same-sex marriage has been the norm in these countries for more than a decade. Stanley Kurtz, in his Weekly Standard article on the issue begs the question: “Will Same-Sex Marriage Undermine the Institution of Marriage? It Already Has.” 

Kurtz writes that Scandinavian same-sex marriage, “Instead of encouraging a society-wide return to marriage…has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable.” 

Kurtz disputes earlier claims by Darren Spedale, an independent researcher with an undergraduate degree who visited Denmark in 1996 on a Fulbright scholarship, that following same-sex marriage laws in the early 1990’s, the divorce rate dropped, and the marriage rate increased. In actual fact, the number of couples having children outside of marriage in the 1990’s rose by 25 percent. Because dissolution rates between cohabitating couples are rarely reported, the divorce rate was substantially skewed. 

Kurtz reveals that cohabitating couples with children break up at two to three times the rate of married parents, and so “Spedale’s report of lower divorce rates and higher marriage rates in post-gay marriage Denmark is thus misleading.” 

Kurtz also laments the demise of a trend in which unmarried couples would often marry at the birth of a second child. He writes that “The most important trend of the post-gay marriage decade may be the erosion of the tendency to marry at the birth of a second child. Once even that marker disappears, the path to the complete disappearance of marriage is open.” 

Again referring to the Spedale report, Kurtz writes that “So the highly touted half-page of analysis from an unpublished paper that supposedly helps validate the ‘conservative case’ for gay marriage—i.e., that it will encourage stable marriage for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike—does no such thing. Marriage in Scandinavia is in deep decline, with children shouldering the burden of rising rates of family dissolution. And the mainspring of the decline—an increasingly sharp separation between marriage and parenthood—can be linked to gay marriage.” 

Kurtz warns that, although the region leads other western nations in legalizing same-sex marriage by ten years, the declining marriage trend is not confined to Scandinavia, but rather that “Contraception, abortion, women in the workforce, spreading secularism, ascendant individualism, and a substantial welfare state are found in every Western country. That is why the Nordic pattern is spreading.” 

Kurtz also offers hope in the fight against the death of marriage.  He writes that “Religion is a key variable. A 2002 study by the Max Planck Institute, for example, concluded that countries with the lowest rates of family dissolution and out-of-wedlock births are “strongly dominated by the Catholic confession.’” 

With files from The Weekly Standard


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